Monthly Archives: June 2013

35. Is embryonic stem cell research ethical? (proposed — Bill)

Embry­on­ic stem cell research may offer rev­o­lu­tion­ary med­ical treat­ments because the embry­on­ic stem cell is the only cell we know of that can dif­fer­en­ti­ate itself into any oth­er type of cell, and can repli­cate itself indef­i­nite­ly. How­ev­er, embry­on­ic stem cell research is con­sid­ered con­tro­ver­sial because some con­sid­er that a blas­to­cyst (a fer­til­ized egg), from which embry­on­ic stem cells are obtained, is a human being.

34. Is English the most important language in the world? (proposed — Soon; discussed 23 August 2013)

Is Eng­lish the most impor­tant lan­guage in the world? Is all lan­guage trans­lat­able? Which parts of which lan­guages are incom­pat­i­ble with oth­er lan­guages and how do dif­fer­ent groups of indi­vid­u­als deal with that? Will glob­al­iza­tion accel­er­ate the loss of cer­tain native lan­guages? What are the con­se­quences of focus­ing on learn­ing the dom­i­nant lan­guages and not focus­ing on pre­serv­ing native lan­guages?

33. What’s beyond democracy? (proposed — Soon) discussed on 13 July 2013

Is there any alter­na­tive gov­ern­ment struc­ture bet­ter than democ­ra­cy? What’s beyond democ­ra­cy? Is it impor­tant to have everyone’s voice being heard or is it the major­i­ty opin­ion that counts? Does the whole vot­ing sys­tem rep­re­sent a nation? What if vot­ing is not com­pul­so­ry in Aus­tralia?

32. Do the arts matter? (Proposed — Soon)

Do the arts mat­ter? What does Arts Edu­ca­tion means to Aus­tralians and how do the Arts for­mu­late the char­ac­ter of a Nation? Can the arts inspire change, pro­voke thoughts in human life or are they a com­plete waste of time? Is it just extra mon­ey spent sat­is­fy­ing our need for enter­tain­ment? Is Arts edu­ca­tion as impor­tant as Sports edu­ca­tion in shap­ing a nation’s wealth and health? Or is Sport more mean­ing­ful than Arts?

25. Segments of the medical profession are compromising public health by peddling drugs (Proposed — Thor )

Seg­ments of the med­ical pro­fes­sion are com­pro­mis­ing pub­lic health by ped­dling drugs. Is this true? In pub­lic sur­veys of trust, doc­tors are always rat­ed the most trust­wor­thy mem­bers of soci­ety. How­ev­er, an exam­i­na­tion of the his­to­ry of med­ical ethics yields results that are far from reas­sur­ing. What is going on here? In a way, patients are hostage to doc­tors. Do patient fears and help­less­ness cre­ate a kind of Stock­holm Syn­drome which leaves space for pro­fes­sion­al abuse?

23. Economies need a high level of government interference (Proposed: Thor) — discussed on 10 August 2013

The most eco­nom­i­cal­ly suc­cess­ful soci­eties have always depend­ed upon a high lev­el of gov­ern­ment col­lu­sion with com­merce and indus­try, if not con­trol. This argu­ment is a way of say­ing that the “invis­i­ble hand” of the mar­ket is not enough to main­tain an effi­cient mar­ket, at least beyond vil­lage lev­el. There has to be an inde­pen­dent umpire, or forced con­trol (dic­ta­tor, mafia … )

21. The limits of education in a complex society (Proposed — Thor)

Our com­plex soci­eties are approach­ing the lim­its of edu­ca­bil­i­ty for large num­bers of cit­i­zens (e.g. “func­tion­al” lit­er­a­cy hov­ers at around 50% in most “advanced” soci­eties). Even those select­ed in schools for high intel­li­gence (e.g. many doc­tors) seem unable to absorb, retain and use crit­i­cal­ly all of the knowl­edge nec­es­sary to prac­tice their pro­fes­sions com­pe­tent­ly. With less able stu­dents, good teach­ers often real­ize that there comes a point of dimin­ish­ing returns for teach­ing effort, so dif­fi­cult choic­es have to be made.

18. The Films, Avatar Vs The Titanic (proposed — Lucy)

I’m into movies in a big way so may­be we could dis­cuss this: was Avatar a bet­ter movie than The Titan­ic? It brings up lots of issues eg rela­tion­ships, revenge, respect, tragedy and hon­our! One oth­er, the big one: God v evo­lu­tion. One more, I can’t stop now!!: Do we suf­fer more ill­ness­es (eg virus­es) now than we did back in the ear­ly days eg 20’s 30’s, if so why would that be? As Arnie said “I’ll be back”!!

16. Rape — whose fault? (proposed — Beth)

Last year a UK offi­cial made the com­ment that some­times when a rape takes place the female vic­tim must accept the real­i­ty that her actions may have trig­gered the attack, at least in part. Is this a fair state­ment? What impli­ca­tions does it have for both vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors? What impli­ca­tions does it have for the way such cas­es are worked through the jus­tice sys­tem?

15. Abortion (proposed — Beth)

In the recent pres­i­den­tial debates in the USA the Repub­li­can par­ty expressed their wish to make abor­tion ille­gal once more, with an excep­tion for cas­es where preg­nan­cy was the result of rape or abuse. Do you think this line of rea­son­ing makes sense? Is it enforce­able? Is this even an issue that war­rants the government’s involve­ment?

6. What is the purpose of dreaming? (proposed — Bill) discussed 29 June 2013

What is the pur­pose of dream­ing? (i.e. what evo­lu­tion­ary advan­tage would a dream­ing crea­ture have over one that does not dream?) There are many exist­ing the­o­ries, such as emo­tion­al reboot, build­ing neu­ral net­works for visu­al pro­cess­ing, etc., but there is no gen­uine con­sen­sus on the issue.

5. Intelligent life elsewhere in the universe — already discussed

Debate top­ic: Is there intel­li­gent life else­where in the uni­verse? Or was the devel­op­ment of life on earth a com­plete fluke, a once only event, which hap­pened again­st all odds, and is nev­er like­ly to occur again any­where in the uni­verse? Is the search for life else­where in the uni­verse a waste of time, mon­ey and resources? Or is it an impor­tant endeav­our?


4. Depression and treatment of it — already discussed

Debate top­ic: Are anti­de­pres­sants over­pre­scribed by doc­tors? Are they mask­ing a person’s true prob­lems? What about the seri­ous side effects? Should they be given to chil­dren as young as 5 years old? Can we trust phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies to do their own tri­als? Why is it gov­ern­ments are not pro­vid­ing more mon­ey to rela­tion­ship edu­ca­tion, emo­tion­al intel­li­gence, resilience, and coun­selling to help pre­vent depres­sion.